"The Brief" - The ALA Blog

  • November 09, 2018 8:24 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This year marks the bicentennial of the Illinois judiciary—200 years since the first four justices of the Illinois Supreme Court were appointed in the then-state capital, Kaskaskia, Illinois. The Supreme Court has changed since 1818 in innumerable ways, but it continues to guide all of our state courts and our profession, and to serve the people of Illinois in the finest traditions of the law.

    On December 6, 2018, the ALA will host an informal roundtable luncheon with our Supreme Court justices to allow participants to speak with the Justices about appellate practice and the role of the judiciary. This is a rare opportunity and should not be missed. Details and registration may be found after the jump.

    Date: Thursday, December 6, 2018

    Time: 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

    MCLE: Participants will earn one hour of MCLE credit. The ALA is an approved MCLE provider.

    Location: Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois. Please note the Union League Club enforces a dress code, which can be found here.

    Cost: $40 for public-sector ALA members; $50 for private-sector ALA members; $55 for public-sector nonmembers; and $65 for private-sector nonmembers. Lunch is included.

    PLEASE NOTE: Registrations processed on-site will be charged an additional $5 administrative fee.

    Questions? Call (630) 416-1166, ext. 303

    Register:

    1. Online registration and payment can be found here.  Or, if you prefer, you can register online but send a check for payment. Please note, credit card payments can only be accepted through the online registration process.  

    2. Mail your completed registration form along with a check payable to ALA to:  

    Chris Teed 
    Appellate Lawyers Association 
    1717 North Naper Boulevard, Suite 102 
    Naperville, Illinois 60563

    Cancellations/Refunds: Cancellations must be received two business days prior to the event in order to receive a full refund. No refunds will be processed after this time. Cancellations must be in writing and may be submitted to cteed@wmrhq.com or faxed to (630) 596-1418. Payment is expected from no-shows.

  • November 08, 2018 8:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Illinois Supreme Court's November Term begins Monday, November 12, 2018, with oral arguments scheduled for November 13, 14, and 20, 2018. A total of 11 cases will be heard -- 4 criminal and 7 civil. The following 7 civil cases are scheduled for argument this term:

    November 13, 2018:

    In re Marriage of Fatkin, No. 123602
    The City of Chicago v. The City of Kankakee, No. 122878
    Better Government Association v. City of Chicago, No. 122949

    November 14, 2018:

    1550 MP Road LLC v. Teamsters Local Union No. 700, No. 123046

    Peach v. McGovern, No. 123156

    November 20, 2018:

    Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., No. 123186
    Smith v. The Vanguard Group, No. 123264 

    Below is a summary for two of the civil cases, Better Government Association v. City of Chicago and Peach v. McGovern. Summaries for this case and others pending with the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, accessible to ALA members on the ALA's website.


    FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT


    Better Government Association v. City of Chicago, No. 122949 

    Two issues are presented in this appeal: (1) whether it is appropriate to enter a protective order prohibiting the release of records pursuant to a non-party’s FOIA request; and (2) whether records of the Office of the Special Prosecutor fall within the FOIA exemption for “matters occurring before the grand jury.” 

    In 2004, Richard J. Vanecko, a relative of former City of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, allegedly assaulted David Koschman, who later died. No charges were initially filed following the alleged assault, but Mr. Koschman's family successfully petitioned for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate whether criminal charges were warranted. 

    While a grand jury was empaneled, the Office of Special Prosecutor (OSP) moved for a protective order “to prevent entities like the City from complying with the FOIA requests for secret grand jury materials that would inevitably end up in its hands.” The motion was granted and protective order was entered. 

    An indictment later was issued against Vanecko and the City requested that the protective order be unsealed to comply with a FOIA request made by the Chicago Sun-Times. The motion was granted. Uncertainty followed regarding what records were covered by the court’s protective order, and a second protective order was entered prohibiting the City from complying with any FOIA request that would identify or characterize documents that were “disseminated to the [OSP] in furtherance of” the grand jury investigation. 

    The Better Government Association (BGA) later sent a FOIA request to the City seeking documents that were specifically protected by the protective order. The City denied the requests under section 7(1)(a) of FOIA, which exempts documents from disclosure if disclosure if prohibited by “State law.” The BGA then filed a complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief for release of the documents. The City filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied on the ground that the protective order was not “State law” for purposes of FOIA.

    The First District Appellate Court affirmed the trial court’s order entering the protective order as it was necessary to protect certain aspects of the grand jury’s investigation, which is expressly permitted under the FOIA statute. 

    The appellate court then held that the City did not have the authority to later release those records requested under the FOIA statute because the protective order prohibited their release. The appellate court relied on decisions of the United States Supreme Court holding that the broad purposes of the FOIA statute are subordinate to a court order prohibiting release of the requested documents for certain purposes. 

    In its petition for leave to appeal, the BGA argued that the court incorrectly relied on federal cases rather than decisions of the Illinois Supreme Court. It argued that the appellate court opinion “seemingly allow[s] individual judges to create new FOIA exemptions that are not found in the statute, both through the issuance of protective orders and through a finding that withholding a record would not be ‘improper.’” It also argued that the opinion ignored the general proposition that FOIA exemptions must be “narrowly construed” in favor of disclosure.

    STANDARD OF REVIEW


    Peach v. McGovern, No. 123156

    The issues in this appeal are: 1) whether the appellate court applied the wrong standard of review (manifest weight of the evidence) when it effectively entered judgment n.o.v. for the plaintiff and 2) whether expert testimony is necessary to admit photographic evidence of a car accident.

    Plaintiff sued defendant after defendant rear-ended plaintiff while plaintiff was stopped at a stop sign. At trial, plaintiff testified that the impact was hard enough to push his car into the intersection about 5 to 10 feet. Plaintiff estimated that defendant was traveling 20 to 25 miles per hour. Defendant testified that she was fully stopped behind plaintiff and that the collision occurred when her foot slipped off of the brake. Photographs, which were admitted over plaintiff’s motion in limine, showed that the car suffered minimal damage. Plaintiff claimed that the collision caused him chronic neck pain, and plaintiff’s expert testified that plaintiff’s neck pain was caused by the collision. Plaintiff’s expert testified that even low-speed collisions could cause plaintiff’s neck pain. The trial court directed a verdict for plaintiff on the issue of negligence, leaving only the issues of causation and damages to the jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant and awarded plaintiff no damages.

    The appellate court reversed. The court first held that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the photographs of plaintiff’s car because, without expert testimony describing the relationship between the damage to the car and plaintiff’s injuries, the photographs were irrelevant. The court acknowledged that the photos might have been relevant to show the speed of defendant’s car, but found that the issue of speed was irrelevant in light of plaintiff’s unrebutted medical evidence that his injuries could have been caused by a low-speed collision.  

    The court also held that the jury’s verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the trial court should have directed a verdict for plaintiff on the issue of causation in light of plaintiff’s unrebutted medical evidence. The court said that no reasonable jury would have declined to at least award plaintiff his medical expenses.

    In its petition for leave to appeal, defendant argues that the appellate court erred in applying the manifest-weight-of-the-evidence standard of review rather than the more stringent standard of review applicable to judgments n.o.v. Defendant also argues that judgment n.o.v. was inappropriate where there were credibility and fact questions raised at trial. Finally, defendant contends that the appellate court incorrectly demanded expert testimony for the admission of photographic evidence, as such evidence was relevant to the nature and extent of plaintiff’s injuries.

  • November 06, 2018 7:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Illinois Supreme Court's November Term begins on Monday, November 12th. The Term will include oral argument in 4 criminal cases and 7 civil cases between November 13th and November 20th. Below is a listing of the 4 criminal cases that will be heard:

    Tuesday, November 13, 2018: People v. Daksh Relwani, No. 123385

                                                           People v. Sylwester Gawlak, No. 123182

                                                           Kenin Edwards v. Hon. Michael Atterbery, No. 123370  
                                                           (prohibition)

    Below is a summary of one of the criminal cases to be argued. As always, more information about all pending criminal and civil cases is available in the ALA's Cases Pending newsletter.




    People v. Daksh Relwani, No. 123385

    After he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, defendant Daksh Relwani filed a petition to rescind the statutory summary suspension of his driver's license. He argued that rescission was appropriate because the summary suspension statute applies only to motorists operating vehicles on "public highways," and the location of his arrest -- a parking lot adjacent to a Walgreen's store -- could not be so characterized because it was "private property." The issue is whether the trial court correctly denied defendant's petition to rescind because he failed to make a prima facie showing that the parking lot was not a "public highway."

    The appellate court affirmed in a 2-1 decision. According to precedent, a parking lot on private property is a "public highway" for this statute if the lot is (1) open to public vehicular traffic, and (2) is publically maintained. The majority noted that defendant's argument that the lot must be private because it was adjacent to Walgreen's was insufficient under this precedent. The majority declined to address, in the alternative, whether it could infer from defendant's testimony that he had been driving on the public highways just before he arrived in the parking lot. The dissenting justice would have concluded that defendant met his prima facie burden by showing that he was driving his vehicle in a parking lot adjacent to a private business, which would shift the burden to the State to offer proof that the private parking lot is publicly maintained.

    Before the Illinois Supreme Court, defendant echoed the position of the dissenting justice. In response, the State offered two grounds for affirmance. First, that defendant drove upon a public highway while intoxicated shortly before his arrest so that the implied consent statute applies even if he was ultimately arrested on private property. And second, defendant failed to make a prima facie showing that he was not on a "public highway" when he was arrested in the parking lot.

  • October 31, 2018 11:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Appellate Lawyers Association will host its annual Moot Court Competition November 2-3 in Chicago, Illinois.

    ALA members act as judges for one of the only Midwest competitions held at every level in working courtrooms. The final round is scheduled to be held in the ceremonial courtroom of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Past judges for the final round include: Judge Diane Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Judge Robert M. Dow, Jr. and Judge Edmond E. Chang, U.S. District Judges for the Northern District of Illinois; Justice Anne Burke and Justice Mary Jane Theis, Supreme Court of Illinois; Justice Brent E. Dickson, Supreme Court of Indiana; Justice David Prosser, Jr., Supreme Court of Wisconsin; Justice Robert Cook, Justice Donald C. Hudson, Justice William E. Holdridge, Justice Margaret Stanton McBride and Justice M. Carol Pope of the Appellate Court of Illinois.

    Recent participating schools include University of Wisconsin Law School, Baylor University Law School, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, St. Louis University School of Law, Liberty University School of Law, Northern Illinois University College of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, Barry University, Brooklyn Law School, Florida State University College of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, South Texas College of Law Houston, St. Mary’s University School of Law, Western State College of Law and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

  • October 19, 2018 8:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On October 30, 2018, the Appellate Lawyers Association will host an important discussion on ethical traps for appellate practitioners presented by James J. Grogan and Steven Splitt of the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. As individuals who regularly interpret and enforce Illinois’s Rules of Professional Conduct, they have unique insights and advice for how appellate attorneys can avoid ethical pitfalls. They will also update us on new trends in this area. This program is a great opportunity to hear from two of the top legal ethics lawyers in Illinois.


    This event is taking place at the Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. $40 for public-sector members of either association; $50 for private-sector members of either association; $55 for public-sector nonmembers; and $65 for private-sector nonmembers. Lunch is included.


    Participants will earn one hour of professional responsibility MCLE credit. The ALA is an approved MCLE provider. 


    Those interested can register online here. On-site registrations will be charged an additional $5 registration fee. Cancellations must be received two business days prior to the event in order to receive a full refund. No refunds will be processed after this time. Cancellations must be in writing and may be submitted to cteed@wmrhq.com or faxed to (630) 416-9798. Additionally, payment is expected from no-shows. Questions? Call (630) 416-1166, ext. 303.

  • September 19, 2018 11:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Monday, September 24, 2018 at 5 p.m., the Advocates Society, the Association of Polish American Lawyers, will host currently sitting Appellate Justice Bogdan Jedrys of Poland, who will discuss the current situation in the Polish judicial system. Justice Jedrys is a member of the independent Association of Polish Judges and will speak after a short general meeting.


    The meeting will be held at Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, 151 N. Franklin St., Suite 2500, Chicago, Illinois 60606. There is no fee to attend, but participants must register in advance. To register, please RSVP to the Advocates Society President Kristen Kozlowski Lyons at attorneykristen@gmail.com.

  • September 18, 2018 8:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Illinois Supreme Court's September Term began on Monday, September 10th.  The Term will include oral argument in 12 civil cases and 10 criminal cases between September 11th and September 19th.  Below is a listing of the 12 civil cases that will be heard:

     


    Thursday, September 13, 2018:


    Sienna Court Condominium Assoc. v. Champion Aluminum Corp., No. 122022

    Beaman v. Freesmeyer, No. 122654

    Carmichael v. Laborers’ & Retirement Employees Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, No. 122793 (cons.)

    Stanphill v. Ortberg, No. 122974


     


    Tuesday, September 18, 2018:


    Gregg v. Rauner, No. 122802

    Piccioli v. Board of Trustees of Teachers Retirement System, No. 122905
    Gonzalez v. Union Health Services, Inc., No. 123025
    First Midwest Bank v. Cobo, No. 123038
    Sperl v. Toad L. Dragonfly Express, No. 123132

     


    Wednesday, September 19, 2018:


    A&R Janitorial v. Pepper Construction, No. 123220

    Palm v. Holocker, No. 123152

    Wingert v. Hradisky, No. 123201

                                                                


    Below is a summary of one of the civil cases to be argued.  As always, more information about all pending criminal and civil cases is available in the ALA's Cases Pending newsletter.






    Stanphill v. Ortberg


     


    This Petition presents the question of whether, in a professional negligence action, a defendant can be civilly liable notwithstanding the lack of reasonable foreseeability of the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff below – the administrator of a decedent’s estate – initiated proceedings in Winnebago County, asserting that the defendants – a hospital and a clinical social worker employed by the hospital – negligently failed to diagnose the decedent as suicidal, leading to his ultimate death by suicide. The jury returned a general verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, but answered, in a special interrogatory, that the decedent’s suicide was not reasonably foreseeable. The circuit court thereupon entered a verdict in favor of the defendants.


     


    The plaintiff appealed and the Second District Appellate Court reversed, concluding that the jury’s answer to the special interrogatory was not inconsistent with its general verdict. The Court found that the special interrogatory was improper insofar as it asked the jury to determine whether the decedent’s suicide was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, rather than to a reasonable person.  In so holding, the Second District departed from the First District’s holding in Garcia, which affirmed the entry of a judgment in favor of the defendant under analogous circumstances. There, the jury returned a general verdict for the plaintiff, but answered, in a special interrogatory, that the decedent’s suicide was not reasonably foreseeable to the defendant, causing the circuit court enter judgment in favor of the defendant. Garcia v. Seneca Nursing Home, 2011 IL App (1st) 103085.


     

    In their petition, Defendants argue that the Second District, in analyzing the special interrogatory, incorrectly held thatforeseeability in a professional negligence case should be based upon a reasonable person standard and that the general verdict could not be squared with the jury’s special interrogatory answer.


  • September 12, 2018 12:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    On September 13, 2018, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, NLG Chicago, and The Puerto Rican Agenda will be hosting a fundraiser to support the recovery in Puerto Rico at Humble Bar, 3018 West North Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. 


    Tickets are available at www.tickettailor.com/events/nlgchicagoandayudalegal/185138


    Donations may be made at www.latinojustice.org/en/donate 



  • September 11, 2018 8:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The seminar, Appellate Practice for the Trial Attorney, scheduled for Wednesday, September 12, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Spalding Pastoral Center, 419 NE Madison Ave. in Peoria, Illinois, has been cancelled. 

  • August 29, 2018 8:13 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The ALA is honored to serve as a co-sponsor of the Diversity Scholarship Foundation’s reenactment of Mendez v. Westminster, a landmark civil rights case that addressed issues of equal protection and social equality.

    The event will be held on Wednesday, September 5, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Loyola University School of Law, 25 East Pearson Street in Chicago. There will be a cocktail reception from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., followed immediately by the program from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Entry is FREE; seats are limited. 

    To learn more about the event, please visit the Diversity Scholarship Foundation website.

    To register, please click here.

DISCLAIMER: The Appellate Lawyers Association does not provide legal services or legal advice. Discussions of legal principles and authority, including, but not limited to, constitutional provisions, statutes, legislative enactments, court rules, case law, and common-law doctrines are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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